Formal or Substantial Innovation: Enquiring the Internal Control System Reform in the Italian Local Government

Elisabetta Reginato, Paola Paglietti, Isabella Fadda


Understanding the reasons for the failure or the success of reforms is an issue that has recently attracted the
attention of many scholars in the public sector field. The present study tries to contribute to this debate focusing
on the social and cultural environment of the communities wherein the reforms are introduced as well as on their
structural characteristics. The research is based on a survey carried out on a representative sample of Italian
municipalities, whose aim is to understand the state of accomplishment of the Italian local government financial
management reform. To this end, a set of internal control tools and techniques is analysed to assess whether they
have been adopted and how they have been used. The findings of this part of the study are then related to the size
of the entities – used as a proxy for the organizations visibility and complexity – as well as to their geographic
location – used as a proxy of their socioeconomic environment. Results show that both the social and structural
characteristics have influenced the reform accomplishment.

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